Saturday Morning Quarterback

Super sibling rivalry Out of the thousands who have played football, who have beaten the odds to reach the highest level of the game [the NFL], who have become assistant coaches, then head coaches, of which there are only 32 right now. To have a pair of brothers be two of those 32 ...
Jan 28, 2013

 

Super sibling rivalry

Out of the thousands who have played football, who have beaten the odds to reach the highest level of the game [the NFL], who have become assistant coaches, then head coaches, of which there are only 32 right now.

To have a pair of brothers be two of those 32 at the same time, then those two survive the minefield that is a grueling regular season, followed by an unforgiving playoff system to be the final two coaches still working.

Jim and John Harbaugh long ago beat the odds. But now, working independently of each other, they've hit the jackpot - at the same time. And a week from now, one of them will capture the Powerball of their profession - the Vince Lombardi Trophy - when Jim's San Francisco 49ers meet John's Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVI.

This is the ultimate sibling rivalry. Both want the same thing. But unlike my two preschool daughters, the one who doesn't win on Feb. 3 won't be crying and demanding the other give him the trophy.

I can't think of a neater story line in the XLVI-year history of the Big Game. Everyone who has had a sibling, raised them or simply watched them interact can relate, whether they've ever played or even watched football before.

As might be expected, the Harbaughs are trying to downplay the situation. Good luck. It's likely to be 70 percent of the questions they get during Tuesday's Media Day.

They plan to limit their communication with each other to texting until after the game - no phone calls. But they did compliment each other this week.

"I am proud of him and what he has accomplished as a coach, but more so as a man -- as a family man, as a father, as a husband, as a brother and son," John said of Jim as quoted on CBSSports.com.

"He's a great football coach," Jim said of John in the same story. "I'm very proud of my brother. I love him."

This isn't the first time they've faced each other since their childhoods. Baltimore won a Thanksgiving 2011 meeting 16-6, so they've been there, done that, only that was a snack compared to the upcoming 10-course meal.

At least they're anxious to play. I remember in the late 1980s when Watson Brown was coaching at Vanderbilt and his Commodores were about to take on Tulane, coached by brother Mack.

Watson cried to the media about how awful it was that he had to coach against his brother. He even tried to get then-athletic director Roy Kramer to get the game off the schedule. Kramer refused.

Mack's Green Wave won the game and he went on to bigger jobs at North Carolina and Texas, where he won a national championship. Watson's Vanderbilt tenure ended with his 1990 firing.

The Harbaugh brothers don't have their jobs on the line right now, though they do have legacies at stake, as do all Super Bowl players, coaches and teams.

But for now, we'll enjoy a sibling rivalry which has gone from the backyard to the biggest stage of all.

 

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